The Blog

Jumping the Shark: How to Get Your Blog Back on Track

So it’s finally happened. Through (perhaps) no fault of your own, you have finally jumped the shark on your blog. If you’re unfamiliar with it, “jumping the shark” is a modern idiom for going completely over to the top due to repetition. Here’s the original clip. Why was Fonzie, a greaser in Milwaukee, jumping over sharks on water-skis in California? Because the writers of Happy Days were out of ideas.

I can’t think of any better analogy for blogging. As someone trying to constantly produce content, it is easy run out of ideas and go somewhere…silly. And that’s what happened—a perfectly stable and well-crafted blog has taken a very weird turn. But this blog isn’t about content tips. There are plenty of places to find that. Besides, this isn’t about being out of ideas; you have an idea—you’ve just fallen down the rabbit hole, not to mix the metaphors.

This also isn’t about avoiding common blogging problems. In my opinion, this isn’t a typical problem. But it is a problem any veteran blogger will have. So what can you do about it?

First of all, take a deep breath. You have a blog that is mostly complete. You’ve done the research, you’ve checked the facts, and now you’ve just lost your way. The first thing to remember is not to panic.

Retrace your steps. Where did things go wrong? Before you can find out what’s wrong, you have to find out where things were still right. Usually I can spot the exact moment where I lost my focus and started navel-gazing into shark territory. Back up to the moment of silliness and really consider what you have there. It might be as simple as cutting everything after that.

If not…

Cut deep, but cut carefully. Perhaps some of the stuff in your babbling and bumbling is good. After all, the first draft of any project should be considered exploratory. It’s perfectly fine to keep some of your more exploratory material, but only if it’s as strong as the rest of your content. Don’t be afraid to cut; get rid of overly wordy, verbose, adjective-filled sentences. Short sentences work (see what I did there?). Also, don’t be afraid to cut out the entire section and rewrite what little gem you found. All I ask is that you dig into all that dopey material and hunt for some gold. Stream of consciousness stuff can be wonderful—it just needs refined.

Take a break. Perhaps you just need a moment to collect your thoughts. Jumping the shark can be as simple cubicle fever. Go for a walk or work on something else. If you’re pressed for time, work on another project for a few minutes or answer some important emails. You need to focus away from this piece for as long as possible. If you can sleep on it, all the better. A fresh set of eyes are great.

If all else fails, start over. As horrible as it may sound, not all pieces can be saved from the shark tank. Sometimes it’s better to walk away from a blog article than to keep trying to repair it. If this piece is no longer recognizable, it may be time to start on a new subject. Perhaps you can come back to this particular subject another time.

Where do we go from here? There’s nothing wrong with jumping the shark. As a social media manager, you’re going to take a wrong turn now and then. The key is to remember your integrity. Don’t settle for silliness just because your blog sitcom has been running for a while. Keep those editing pencils sharp, and know when to cancel an article if it doesn’t hold up to your standards.